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Growing Things and Other Stories

Growing Things and Other StoriesGrowing Things and Other Stories by Paul Tremblay
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Paul Tremblay’s tour-de-force story collection is a must-read, not just for existing Tremblay fans (the good news for those who’ve read his previous, small-press collections is that there’s only a small amount of overlap here), but also for fans of smart, literate stories that are more interested in evoking emotions from the reader than in tying things up in a nice, easy bow. Tremblay trades in the chilling and the unsettling, not in gore, violence, or classic a-monster-comes-to-town tales (although he does play with that trope in the story “Our Town’s Monster”). As a result, each of these nineteen stories will leave you feeling off balance and uneasy, concerned about the stability of the world around you and everything you thought you knew.

It’s hard to choose favorites from such a consistently excellent collection, but a few of the stories did stick out for me. One was the novella “Notes from the Dog Walkers,” one of two originals in this collection, in which a horror writer named Paul ___ hires a dog walking service. Each dog walker leaves a note for him afterward detailing how the walk went. Only, the notes get longer, darker, more intrusive, more passive-aggressive toward Paul and his success as an author, and weirdly personal as time goes on. I really enjoyed how Tremblay builds the slow escalation over the course of the story, leading to a very creepy ending. “Something About Birds” is another standout for me, a hallucinatory, surreal story that reminds me of the best, most ambiguous parts of the movie EYES WIDE SHUT, while also allowing Tremblay to articulate the power of ambiguity in fiction through the protagonist’s interviews with the reclusive author William Wheatley. I felt a deep connection to the story “Her Red Right Hand” as well, with its beautifully related message that creativity and imagination can help you get through an emotionally difficult time.

One word of warning, at least for the hardcover edition: Because Tremblay’s stories are so much more than the sum of their parts, and because they are designed to leave the reader with an emotional response rather than a plot revelation, the synopses of some of the stories on the flap copy are atrocious. There’s a far richer experience waiting for you in these pages than those synopses would lead you to believe.

Tremblay’s work continues to excel. I second Adam Neville’s blurb: “Paul Tremblay is one of the key writers who have made modern horror exciting again.” Read GROWING THINGS and experience why.

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My NecronomiCon Providence 2019 Schedule

NecronomiCon Providence is coming up this weekend, August 22nd – 25th in Providence, Rhode Island! Here is my program schedule:

Friday, August 23rd

10:30 AM – 11:45 AM AUTHOR READINGS — L’Apogee, Graduate 17th Floor
Catherine Grant, Nicholas Kaufmann, Robert Levy, Douglas E. Winter

6:00 PM – 7:15 PM THE WEIRD ON A BLACK AND WHITE SCREEN: CLASSIC WEIRD TELEVISION — Washington-Newport Room, Omni 3rd Floor
The Twilight Zone, The Outer Limits, Alfred Hitchcock Presents, Kolchak the Night Stalker — For decades, classic television brought the weird into living rooms across America. Our panelists explore the classic era of weird television. What did they do well and not so well? How did they influence generations of creators and fans of weird fiction, cinema, and television?
Panelists: Nicholas Kaufmann (M), Gwendolyn Kiste, Pete Rawlik, Alan Tromp, Joe Zannella

Sunday, August 25th

The Warhammer universe is as vast as it is grim, positing cosmic horror on a scale that boggles the imagination. Whether played out in the Age of Sigmar fantasy setting or the million embattled worlds of 40K, humanity is doomed to conflict against alien races, malign supernatural powers, and malevolent gods with a distinct Mythos flavor. For over thirty years, Games Workshop has produced and licensed wargames, RPGs, video games, fiction, and film, all of which share the Warhammer world view. Our expert panel discusses the philosophical themes of the Warhammer Universe, their expression in the games, and how they relate to the work of HPL.
Panelists: John Goodrich, Niels Hobbs (M), Nicholas Kaufmann, Mike Mason, Molly Tanzer

You can see the full program schedule here. Looking forward to seeing you in Providence!

100 FATHOMS BELOW Nominated for a Dragon Award!

Friends, I’m delighted to inform you that 100 Fathoms Below is up for a 2019 Dragon Award in the Best Horror Novel category!

You can see the full ballot here.

I fully expect Grady Hendrix’s masterful We Sold Our Souls to win, but it’s an honor just to make the ballot. Voting is open to the public, even if you’re not attending Dragon Con, so if you feel like voting for 100 Fathoms Below, please do! Instructions can be found at the link above.

Also, please consider voting for my pal David Mack’s awesome novel The Iron Codex in Best Alternate History Novel!

Thank you for your consideration!